According to the experts what you do first thing in the morning has the greatest impact on the success of the rest of your day. In this series we asked our soloist community what rituals they use to kickstart their systems before getting on with work for the day.
1. Do you action/plan/do anything specific to prepare for the morning the night before?
Yes. I have an unnatural love for a to-do list. Only in recent years have I graduated from a written list, and I now have a Google Doc that I update at the end of every day, as well as during the day.
The work tasks on the list are broken up into three sections: Today, Tomorrow and Later, with a Home section for non-work stuff. I also have a Long-term list on the next page where I capture ideas, projects, goals and plans that I want to get to eventually but that aren’t currently happening.
At the end of each day I update and re-prioritise this list and clear my desk of any clutter ready for the next morning.
2. What time do you wake up? And how do you do it? Ie, alarm, someone wakes you up or it just happens naturally
I wake up about 7am. We leave the blinds open, so when it’s light earlier (like now) I’ll wake up with no alarm. In the dark of winter I set the alarm at 6.45am and have a few too many wild swings at the snooze button.
3, What is the VERY first thing you do after you wake up? If you eat, what do you eat?
Pressing the long black button is the first useful thing I do each day. For almost the last two years, whatever the season, I’ve had an unwavering commitment to porridge (made in the microwave) with chopped banana and almonds.
4. What is your first drink of the day? Where are you when you’re drinking it?
Water. In the kitchen. I never drink enough water during the day, so while the coffee is brewing I’ll force myself to scull a mug full of water so at least I start the day with some. Then I sip my coffee while doing all the other domestic stuff around the house – often forgetting where I left it.
5. What part of your morning routine makes you feel the best?
A freezing cold swim. Four or five days a week I’ll go for a quick bike ride or run with the dog before starting work, followed by a plunge in the pool. It can be painful but I find that a bit of cardio exercise followed by a cold shock wakes me up and makes such a difference to my day compared to when I skip it. I love a cold shower for the same reason. There’s apparently some science behind the benefits of this.
6.What part of the routine could you not live without?
Updating the to-do list. Knowing the priority for the next day really helps me shut off for the evening and weekends.
7. Describe your ideal morning
Funnily enough, I was asked to describe my ideal morning, and day, a few years ago on Flying Solo and my fantasy is still the same. It goes like this:
I wake up at 6am and have a quiet coffee on the back steps watching the dawn light. I head out for a bike ride and swim and come back energised and refreshed.
After a quick shower I get into my comfortable yet effortlessly-professional outfit and wake up the kids for breakfast at 7.15am. They laugh at my wacky Dad jokes as I cook them poached eggs with baby spinach on toast. They’re all organised in time to do some reading before school drop off.
By 9am I sit at my clear desk. My to-do list is already prioritised. My most important task is at the top with a smiley face. I’m creative in the morning, so I knock over my priority project in the first three-hour stint before doing anything else.
Lunchtime already! I re-energise with a walk in the sun and a perfect Nicoise salad, which I packed for myself when I made the kids’ school lunches the night before.
In the afternoon I shift to smaller tasks, responding to emails, catching up on admin and neatly tying up loose ends. By 5.30pm my inbox is clear, my to-do list is written and I look forward to some al fresco dining with my close friends and family before an early night to read On The Road by Jack Kerouak – such crisp prose!
This happened once in 2009. A fantastic day 🙂
And, you didn’t ask me this question, but here’s my non ideal morning:
I am woken up by the smell of my daughter’s burning toast at 8am because I’ve stayed up too late watching Australia get rolled by England in the cricket, or mindlessly watching Narcos on Netflix.
I slam some bread together with random fillings, chuck an apple in the bag and rush the girls out the door. By 9.20am I’m at my desk still in my ugg boots with an overflowing inbox, yesterday’s to-do list and tucking into my third coffee.
Thankfully this is not typical, but days like this do happen more than I like to admit (although I think I just did).